Vacation tip: recharge your smartphone while you cook the soup

USB link in pot with heat-exchange generator could save your trip

Going into the woods on vacation any time soon? Weekend hikes? Scout trips with the kids? Backcountry treks and ascents that will challenge your body and test your determination?

Bringing any way to recharge any of the geekware you'll feel compelled to bring?

Until recently Geeks venturing into the wild carrying a lightish load of trail-mapped GPS, cell phone and digital camera faced the ridicule and abuse of thoughtless bigots who believe the sanctity of nature should be undisturbed by modern technology.

These were mostly the same people who spent half the trip complaining about the weight of their packs with 10 pounds of extraneous camera equipment and books they would spend an hour with to identify something you could tell from yards away was "a weed."

For the last few years cell phones have been so universal, even in places like New Hampshire's White Mountains that mountain rescue crews are kept as busy answering calls for directions, weather reports or requests for emergency pickup due to fatigue or blisters.

Other than expensive and often ineffective solar-power rechargers, there have been few options to recharge phones, GPS units and digital phones on the trail.

TES NewEnergy Co. would like to introduce another option: a stew-pot that lets you recharge USB-enabled devices while you cook.

The Pan Charger for Mobile Phone consists of a lightweight cooking pot with a build-in thermoelectric heat exchanger, which generates a trickle of juice while the pot is on the fire to recharge any smartphone or other device using the USB cable extending from its handle.

The charger and a range of other heat-exchange power generators is based on research into thermoelectric power generation that uses what TES describes as "waste heat" and the rest of us call (at least in the case of the stew pot) a campfire.

It comes with adapters for iPhones and works with anything with a mini-USB port, bleeding out 5 volts DC at 400 milliamps and 2-watts of total power.

Just the thing to brew up a little soup or coffee waiting for the guy with the art photography studio in his pack to finish shooting closeups of a bug you'll step on later as it tries to come get some soup.

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